Wool | By Hugh Howey

You may have noticed that I’ve been absent from my blog the past few weeks, which makes me sad. The good news is that I should have some more time in my schedule to start writing new reviews now that I’m officially done with grad school!

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So with the distracting business of degree-earning behind me, I can finally start reviewing some of the books I’ve managed to squeeze in recently. First up is Hugh Howey’s Wool, which I thoroughly enjoyed!

22319819_edited-1Book: Wool by Hugh Howey 
Genre:
Science Fiction
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication Date:
March 12, 2013
Pages:
509
Rating: 
★★★★

Synopsis: The Silo houses an underground civilization where the remainder of humanity lives, while the mere air of the outside world is deadly. The people of the Silo have lived there for decades, their record of history only going back to a rebellion that occurred a couple of generations before. Everyone has a job to fulfill, with young people shadowing the old to take their place when they pass on. When someone dies, a couple is chosen from the lottery and given a chance to have a child. The Silo operates on many cycles such as these to ensure that their underground world and limited resources will remain for generations to come.

The Silo is shrouded in taboos – the biggest of which is speculating about the outside. The top floor is lined with screens that provide the image of the outside world, but the camera lenses that capture that image continuously become more clouded by the toxic grime that prevents them from leaving. The lenses are occasionally cleaned by those who break the rules, or by those who simply can’t stay inside any longer and volunteer themselves. The cleaners are sent outside in protective suits that last just long enough for them to scrub away at the grime on the lenses before disintegrating into dust, leaving the Silo’s inhabitants a clear view of the outside, if only for a day.

Perhaps the one dangerous question that enters the most curious of minds is why: why do the cleaners condemned to death even bother, when they all swear that they’ll refuse to do it? It is the answer to this question that places Juliette’s life in danger. Juliette is a mechanic who unwittingly gets roped into being sheriff – a job she never planned nor prepared for. Just days into her new job, Juliette begins to unravel the dangerous thread that her predecessor left behind, which changes everything she’s ever known about her world. Will this be the start of the next rebellion?

Thoughts: I’ll be honest – it took me awhile to get into this one. The book was originally released in five novellas, and the Wool Omnibus Edition combines them into one volume. I didn’t really get hooked until part three, but I will say that the first two parts are very important for context (and they’re relatively short!). With that said, I ended up giving Wool four stars, so I was clearly able to get over the slower pace of the beginning.

Wool is a post-apocalyptic novel that poses the classic SciFi question of what if, with its main characters questioning whether what they know is reality. The setting of this novel is richly described and immersive, with the Silo presumably existing in a terrifying future version of our own world. Though it’s typical for SciFi novels to be mainly plot-driven, I was really drawn to the characters in this book, particularly Juliette. I love stories with strong female protagonists, and Juliette fits the bill; she’s intelligent, independent, level-headed, and often defiant. The supporting characters are great as well, including the main antagonist.

I gave Wool four stars instead of five because there are some plot holes and unanswered questions that I wish would’ve been addressed. I also thought the ending was a bit rushed, though not unsatisfying. Perhaps some of my questions will be answered in the last two books of the Silo Saga, Shift and Dust. The story of Shift takes place prior to Wool, so I imagine it answers a lot of questions about how the world of the Silo came to be. Dust picks back up after the events of Wool, and to be honest, I’m a little tempted to skip Shift because I really want to continue with Juliette’s story!

Bottom line: Wool is a mature, refreshing take on the familiar SciFi dystopian novel. The world of the Silo is engrossing and its characters are engaging. Highly recommend!

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